BOBBY V IS EXACTLY WHAT RED SOX NEEDBy Joe McDonald
Bobby Valentine wants to be the manager of the Boston Red Sox in the worst way.
And there are plenty of reasons he should be.
The 61-year-old is the front-runner for the vacant managerial job of the Red Sox, and he was impressive during his formal interview with ownership and general manager Ben Cherington.
It shouldn't matter that Valentine hasn't managed in the big leagues since 2002. He's a highly intelligent, experienced and gifted baseball mind who has won while managing in a major market like New York, where he was with the Mets.
From a disciplinary standpoint, Valentine would be tough on the players when he needs to be and would deal with each individual personality and ego as needed. He's the kind of guy who would take a fungo bat to the giant flat-screen televisions in the clubhouse if he believed the players needed a wake-up call.
Valentine, known for his shrewd in-game managerial decisions, would accept and use the Sox's philosophy on sabermetrics, analysis and scouting. He'd also make sure the players are in proper condition and prepared on a daily basis.
Valentine came close to winning a World Series in 2000, but the Mets lost to the Yankees, and he believes that he can finally accomplish that lifelong baseball goal with this stacked Red Sox team.
In the recent past, Valentine has been considered for other managerial openings with other organizations, but he wasn't interested because it wasn't the perfect situation for him.
Boston is, and he knows it. Valentine wants this job. He wants to win with the Red Sox.
Some of his closest advisers, including Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and New Jersey Devils president/GM Lou Lamoriello, have told Valentine that this opportunity with the Red Sox is something he should do.
Valentine has been controversial in the past, but there's no denying his passion for the game of baseball and everyone associated with it. Valentine also is entertaining and would be a perfect fit for Boston, its fans and this team.
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
VALENTINE WOULD BE TOO BIG A RISK FOR RED SOXBy David Lefort
Bobby Valentine is the sexy hire, for sure. He would make the most headlines and certainly would make the 2012 Red Sox more interesting. But is he the right person to lead this team after the way things ended last season?
We're not so sure.
After all, Valentine oversaw a September collapse of his own in his final season as manager of the New York Mets in 2002, a downward spiral that saw him lose his clubhouse and ultimately his job. Sound familiar?
During that season, Valentine also publicly clashed with his general manager, who eventually fired him after the Mets stumbled to a 75-86 record and a last-place finish in the NL East.
It's clear from the way the interview process has gone that Valentine is not the first choice of new GM Ben Cherington. And although the charismatic Valentine is likely to win over Cherington (at least publicly), the marriage would not begin under ideal circumstances.
Valentine is the type of guy to tell it like it is, even if it means calling out a player, an executive or the team in public. Although that makes for good copy, is that what's best for the Red Sox, particularly coming off a season that ended in a squall of controversy and publicly aired dirty laundry?
By all accounts, Valentine is a brilliant in-game manager, is hungry for this opportunity and seems open to the organization's sabermetric philosophy. But is that enough? After all, for all the star quality he brings to the job, he's never won a World Series in 15 years as a big league manager. Heck, he's never even won a division title and has just a .510 winning percentage for his career.
Sure, Terry Francona came in with a similarly mediocre career mark, and we know how that turned out, but not every hire is going to be a hit. Before Francona, the last Red Sox skipper to last more than five years was Joe Cronin in the 1940s.
Does Valentine have upside? Absolutely. He's saying all the right things, has been a terrific analyst on ESPN and was wildly successful managing in Japan. A fresh start in Boston could be exactly what both he and the Sox need. But he's also the riskiest, most volatile candidate. Even the biggest Bobby supporters have to admit this could get ugly if things don't go well.
Should the Red Sox roll the dice on a hire like this when so much (a team of handsomely paid stars that's built to win now) is riding on it?
David Lefort is an editor for ESPNBoston.com.